Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy

Burbank Unified eyes fiber optics

Burbank Unified plans to increase its data bandwidth at schools by 700% and save thousands of dollars in annual costs in the process by connecting to the city’s fiber optics network.

The greater bandwidth would mean far speedier Internet connections and faster flow of information at the classroom level and at district headquarters, officials say.

The glass cables — each composed of 144 thin strands — would provide a 1-gigabit-per-second connection, far greater than the district’s current 155-megabits-per-second connection.

If more than 200 people log on to the current system simultaneously, it slows down considerably, said Charles Poovakan, the director of information technology and educational support for Burbank Unified.


“We’re always looking to update our system,” Poovakan said.

“We’re trying to plan for tomorrow.”

The district spends $18,000 each year on its current system, but after it’s plugged into the fiber optic network — operated by Burbank Water and Power — that annual cost would be reduced to $9,000, according to a city report.

The new fiber optic system would have cables transmitting information from Burbank schools to One Wilshire — a major communications hub at Grand Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles.


Burbank Water and Power connected its own fiber optic network to One Wilshire more than a year ago.

“Before you know it, we had this nice network and extra cable,” said John Cassidy, manager of telecommunications for the utility.

The proposal to hook Burbank Unified up to the system — which must still be approved by the school board — would start with Burbank and Burroughs high schools and the district.

“Then we’ll work on what other [Burbank] schools would be next,” Cassidy said.

The project will not require any city streets to be torn up, he added.

Fiber optic “trenches” have been installed over the past three years as city workers added lines at parks, playgrounds, schools and libraries for recycled water.

The new cables would place Burbank schools under the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California and allow for teachers to access digital educational tools created by the California Research and Education Network, currently used by the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The City Council has already approved the project.